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Geotechnical Engineering


Geophysical Technologies for Detecting Underground Coal Mine Voids:
An Interactive Forum

A Generalized Protocol for Selecting Appropriate Geophysical Techniques

Presenter: Dr. Neil Anderson, Professor of Geology
University/Organization: University of Missouri-Rolla
Phone: 573-341-4852
Fax: 573-341-6935
Mailing Address: 125 McNutt Hall
Rolla, Missouri 65401


Geophysical tools provide information about the physical properties of the subsurface, and are routinely applied to mining-related problems of a geotechnical nature. Geophysical data, if properly acquired, processed, constrained and interpreted, can be transformed into site models (typically subsurface geologic models). These site models can be of great practical utility inasmuch as they provide subsurface control in inter-boreholes areas and at sub-borehole depths.

The mining engineer responsible for geotechnical site characterization should ensure all geophysical techniques employed are capable of providing useful and cost-effective information about the subsurface feature(s) of interest at the required levels of spatial resolution and target definition. As an aid to the geotechnical engineer, tabularized information about ten commonly employed geophysical methods and a generalized approach (protocol) for evaluating their utility as site characterization tools are presented herein. The accompanying discussions are intended to be informative - not exhaustive. The reader is referred to the selected bibliography for more rigorous treatments of the geophysical techniques. The engineer engaged in geophysical survey design is strongly encouraged to work with a knowledgeable geophysicist.

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Updated: 04/15/2015

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration